Climate finance and payments for Nepal’s carbon sink from expanded forest cover will take time to materialise. But experts say we should not wait for the money, and start with low-cost effective mitigation measures locally.
Cooking via electricity has now become much cheaper than LPG, and many urban families have transitioned to induction stoves. But 90% of households across Nepal are hooked to only 5amp current which is only enough for lighting. If the transmission can be upgraded, Nepal could save at least Rs33 billion a year by replacing its cooking gas imports with electricity.
Nepalis have paid nearly Rs10 billion in pollution tax for every litre of petrol or diesel at the gas stations in the last decade. This money could be used to buy electric public buses. Increasing the petroleum excise tax could fund conversion to renewables.
Nepal would also save Rs21 billion a year by reducing its petroleum import bill by just 10% if it converted public buses to battery-operated vehicles while also increasing domestic consumption of clean electricity and improving air quality. If the transport sector is electrified, experts believe net-zero by 2045 is possible.
Water scientist Madhukar Upadhya believes Nepal can also increase forest cover to 45% by 2030 (from the current 37%) by controlling forest degradation due to encroachment, deforestation and reducing wildfires.
But Upadhyay is puzzled by the third target on protecting vulnerable people. “We just don’t have the infrastructure, knowledge or expertise to achieve climate resilience for vulnerable people by 2030,” he asserts.
“Nepal experienced extreme weather this year, droughts and floods destroyed crops, lack of water is creating climate refugees, wildfires have become nationwide,” Upadhyay adds. “These are not just headlines anymore, we are experiencing them ourselves, what are we doing to address these challenges? Nepal has taken no action to reduce or control them.”